Three numbers to start your day:
Consumer Confidence Index Drops
The August reading of the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index was 84.8, down sharply from the post-pandemic peak of 98.3 in June. The index is now lower than it was back in May. The drop was driven by a massive decline in American consumers’ estimates of current business and job market conditions. Expectations for the future were slightly lower, but relatively unchanged.
The decline in optimism since June makes sense given the resurgence of the virus, the slowdown in the job market, and the sharp reduction of government income support.
Most concerning is the changing assessment of the job market. The number of Americans who said jobs are “hard to get” rose to just over 25% in August, up from about 20% in July.
U.S. Small Business Revenue Down 9% from June Peak
That is according to the Opportunity Insights economic tracker.
It’s another piece of bad news for the sector, which has already been struggling to survive. A July survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 37% of small businesses wouldn’t be able to last more than 6 months with their current level of sales.
Before the pandemic, about a third of all Americans worked at businesses that had fewer than 20 employees, while half worked at businesses with fewer than 100 workers. If they are forced to permanently close, it will lead to substantially lower employment and incomes without massive hiring elsewhere.
U.S. Energy Generation Fell 4% in First Half of 2020
That is according to the latest Electric Power Monthly from the Energy Information Administration. The decline was most intense in March, April, and May, when generation was down 7% compared with those same months last year.
The pain wasn’t evenly shared, however, with wind and natural gas generation up 15% and 7% over the first half of 2019, respectively, even as coal generation collapsed by 31%.
The drop in electricity generation from coal was about twice as large as the total increase in power coming from natural gas and wind.
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